Frito Pie with 1 Hour Texas Chili

So, here’s the dilemma:

When I freak out, I procrastinate. When I procrastinate, I shop. When I shop, I get hungry. When I get hungry, I eat. When I eat too much, I freak out.

Okay, freaking is a bit too strong of a word, but it certainly is an emotionally charged word and certainly helps justify the destructive chain of events that happen following the initial emotional breakdown.

So, I’m on deadline for this book — well, truth be told, I’m past deadline (thus the freaking out) — and now all I can think about are these dishes, these glasses, chubby hubby bars and Frito Pie….as in homemade 1 Hour Texas Chili spooned on top of a mound of Frito chips.

Frito Pie is a Texas delicacy, popular at county fairs and considered good tail-gaitin’ eats. It’s an easy enough treat to make – a 10 minute prep and then let it simmer an hour on the stove. Rip open a package of Fritos, pour it on and eat straight out of the bag.

The recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks of 2011 – Lisa Fain’s Homesick Texan Cookbook – slightly modified to shave off a few minutes of the hands-on involvement in the recipe.

You can customize this recipe any way you want, including adding a can of Rotel diced tomatoes, a can of beans or using ground turkey, but there’s one thing you don’t want to change: use dried chiles instead of just chili powder.

Lisa’s recipe calls for dried ancho, chipotle and pequin — though I only used ancho and chipotle (couldn’t find pequin). The dried chiles will last forever in your pantry and all you need to do is rehydrate them in water and add them in the blender along with dried oregano, ground cumin, clove and cinnamon. This homemade chili base that has so much more depth and flavor than just ground chili powder.

The kids loved it – it’s not spicy-hot (top it with chopped jalepeno peppers if you want) and they thought I was the coolest mom letting them eat out of a chip bag. 

Frito Pie: best freakout food ever.

 Serve with a side of Collard Greens, another recipe from Lisa.

More recipes from Homesick Texan Cookbook:

Texas Caviar – Simply Recipes

Carnitas – What’s Gaby Cookin’

Austin Style Black Beans – Sweet Life

Poblano Mac & Cheese – Nutmeg Nanny

Pork Tacos Dallas Gas Station Style – Bo’s Bowl


Frito Pie with 1 Hour Texas Chili Recipe

Servings: 8 servings Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 1 hour
Frito Pie Recipe with 1 Hour Texas Chili

Adapted from Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain

You can add in a can of diced tomatoes (I like Rotel) and/or a can of beans. If you add diced tomatoes, you can omit the lime juice.

Other toppings: dollop of sour cream, chopped pickled jalepeno, fresh diced tomatoes


6 dried ancho chilies, stems and seeds removed
2 dried chipotle chilies, stems and seeds removed
1 tablespoon cooking oil, bacon grease or lard
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 dried pequin chilies
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons kosher salt (1 teaspoon table salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds ground beef
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 big bags Fritos or individual snack-sized Fritos, at least for each person
8 ounces shredded cheese


1. In a bowl, soak the ancho and the chipotle chilies in 1 cup of hot water for 10 minutes.

2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the cooking oil over medium heat. Add the onions and brown for 3 minutes. Throw in the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Place the onions and garlic in the blender.

3. Add the soaking chiles with the water into to the blender. Add in the pequin chilies (no need to soak these). Add in cumin, oregano, clove, cinnamon, salt, pepper. Blend until smooth.

4. In the same large pot (as step 2) - cook the ground beef, stirring occassionally until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chili puree and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil then turn the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, stirring occassionally.

5. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. (At this step I added an additional teaspoon of kosher salt and more black pepper). Stir in lime juice. Serve over Fritos and top with shredded cheese.

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Comments 45

  1. Janiegirlcrafts

    Where I grew up these are called Walking Tacos. We would make them while camping or nights spent in the backyard. We would get an assortment box of individual chip bags, try with Doritos sometime! Thanks for reminding me of this fantastic idea!

    1. Leo

      Me,Myself everysince I was very young !! Used to do with chili,pizza/toppings & or TACO illings the very samething if I had certain somethings to go with it/THEM !!! For instance Using a nice sized bowl I’d rip up some lettuce leaves and/or cruch up some taco shells -OR- doritos at times in a BIG~BOWL and in layers would fill the bowl til I was out of supplies_a.k.a._ topping or fillings!!! It was MOSTLY TACO SALAD TIME for me !!”YUMMY”!!~!!! rRr.,.

  2. VictoriaJane

    Wow I remember this from H.S. football games in San Antonio – but you’ve gotta put some diced onions on top! So good!

  3. Jennifer

    I love Walking Tacos! They were often a hot lunch option at school and a popular meal at concession stands! I’m probably going to serve them to my youth group kids soon!

  4. Dianna @ The Kitchen Prep

    I’m sorry that my Chubby Hubby Bars added to your distraction {though I highly recommend making them when you do have time!}, but now you’ve got me craving Frito Pie, so I guess we’re even! ;)Thanks for mentioning my recipe & for sharing yours!

  5. Gayle

    Walking tacos…’s been around for years and on The Pionner Womans and others sites too.

  6. joey

    Oh my goodness me!!! I am speechless! This may have been around for a while over there, but over hear this is going to be knocking socks off very soon! 🙂

  7. Whitney

    I think I’m a bit too homesick, since when I saw this post I about cried, haha. Frito pie is delicious, and I even got my Yankee husband to like it and now this is his favorite way to eat em.

  8. [email protected]

    Great recipe. I have to try it for a soccer team. They sure would love it!

  9. The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh

    I desperately want to dig into this but something tells me I would end up needing a drop cloth. Would it be weird to just cut a hole in a trash bag, stick my head through and eat this on the floor? Yes? I shouldn’t type everything I think! 🙂

  10. Chris

    Stumbled, Pinned, and bookmarked. This is similar to “Petros”, a dish that gained fame locally during the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville. Damn, I’m ready to go downstairs and make this right now.

    Hope you are feeling de-stressed now! Keep rockin’ that book out.

  11. Ann

    How much chili should go in a frito bag (there are different sizes!). I read some time ago frito lay changed their bags and the new ones didn’t hold up as the old ones.

  12. Tammy

    Just finished making and eating this for dinner….for those out there who can’t find dried chilies DON’T use a whole can of ancho chilies because you will then need more sourcream and cheese than you have chilli to keep your mouth from burning up. 😉 But overall….YUMO!!! Thanks for the recipe.

  13. Jen Laceda

    ok, i’m freaking out! and my kids will definitely freak out when they see this one! what kid doesn’t want to eat out of a chip bag?

  14. Robyn Wright of

    I have grown up eating Frito Pie – love it. However, I’ve never eaten it out of the bag like this. I do know that people do it thought because my mom grew up in the Southwest and she said at school that is how they served it even – opened bag of Fritos and the chili on top. She said that was a favorite of everyone in her school.

  15. marvin

    Awesome Texas original..had mine several years ago in Houston. In Ohio, we drive thru Wendy’s with Fritos open and ready; buy the Wendy’s chili for a buck apiece and dump and dip before we leave the parking lot. Wendy’s here are open til 2am so it’s great ” after the nite ” food….beats Taco Hell…..

  16. Frank Rizzo

    As someone from Texas I’ll tell you the simplest and best way to make it. Regardless of how you cook your chili just heat a ladle full in a pot. Once it gets good and hot add a few handfuls of fritos. Stir it up so all the fritos get coated. Toss in some pepper jack cheese shredded. Stir a few times. Serve with diced raw onions on top and sriracha the Vietnamese rooster sauce. It makes all the difference compared to just pouring chili on top of dry fritos.

    Another gem we do down here in San Antonio is put refried pinto beans on our burgers. Do it. But only if they are good beans. No refried beans from a can.

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  19. Louis (Rockybalboa211)

    This isn’t a walking taco! This is a fancy South Texas Frito Pie which originated in the 1930s/40s in San Antonio, Texas! 😀

  20. marijka

    I used to eat this at drive-ins in Tennessee and Mississippi, but instead of a bag it was served in a paper boat and called ‘chili pie’. Yum!

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  27. Sheryd Jackson

    This chili is too wet. Four cups plus one with two pounds of meat makes soup. It’s been boiling on my stove for an hour and it’s still soup. Seasonings (cinnamon and cloves) don’t go with this savory dish. Disappointed.

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